tek's rating: ½

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (PG-13)
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Caution: spoilers.

First, I'll reveal some things about the previous movie that I didn't before. Sirius Black was believed to have betrayed Harry's parents to Voldemort, but it turns out it was actually Peter Pettigrew (aka "Wormtail") who had done that. Afterwards, Pettigrew went into hiding, and everyone believed he had been killed by Sirius, who was actually innocent of any wrongdoing. At the end of the previous movie, Harry and Hermione learned the truth about all that. But they had no proof, so Sirius had to go into hiding, flying away with Buckbeak.

This movie (directed by Mike Newell) begins with a muggle caretaker of an abandoned mansion seeing lights on in the old building, so he goes to check on it, expecting to find kids goofing around. Instead, he glimpses a conversation between Voldemort, Peter Pettigrew, and another man. (The third man is played by David Tennant; his character will be identified much later in the film.) When they realize the muggle has been eavesdropping, Voldemort attacks him, and Harry wakes up. So it's unclear at first whether it was just a nightmare, or if his dream was a vision of something that really happened. Meanwhile, he has been staying with Ron's family... though just for a day or so, I guess. I assume he spent the summer with the Dursleys again, but they are neither mentioned nor seen in this movie, which I appreciate. Anyway, Hermione soon joins Harry and Ron, as well as Fred, George, and Ginny. Their father, Arthur Weasley, takes them all to meet a friend of his named Amos Diggory, and his son Cedric (Robert Pattinson). Together, they all attend the Quidditch World Cup final, between Ireland and Bulgaria. It's great fun, but after the match, the place is attacked by Death Eaters who work for Voldemort. Harry is knocked unconscious by the crowd's rush to escape. He later wakes up and sees the third man from his dream, though I guess he doesn't recognize him as such. The man begins approaching Harry, but runs off when he hears the Weasleys calling for Harry.

Meanwhile, the students return to Hogwarts to begin their new year. Dumbledore announces that the school will be hosting this year's Triwizard Tournament, along with delegations from two other magical schools: the Durmstrang Institute (in Central Europe) and Beauxbatons Academy of Magic (in France). Any student over the age of 17 may write their name and place it in the Goblet of Fire, which will later select one champion from each school to compete in the tournament. Dumbledore also introduces Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody, who will be this year's teacher of Defense Against the Dark Arts. The Goblet eventually chooses Cedric Diggory to represent Hogwarts, Viktor Krum (the star of the Bulgarian Quidditch team) to represent Durmstrang, and Fleur Delacour to represent Beauxbatons. However, the Goblet unexpectedly also selects Harry as a champion, which is very strange, because he didn't put his name in. There is some debate about whether he should be allowed to compete, considering he's only 14, which is against the rules. And he doesn't even want to compete. But it is decided that the Goblet's choices can not be overridden, and Harry himself has no choice in the matter. (I still think it's strange that it's allowable for there to be four competitors instead of three, considering that seems to give Hogwarts an unfair advantage over the other two schools. But whatevs.) Ron doesn't believe Harry when he says he didn't put his name in the Goblet, so the two of them have a falling-out, as Ron is very angry at Harry. But they make up eventually.

Well, the first challenge of the Triwizard Tournament involves each champion facing a different dragon, and stealing an egg being guarded by it. The eggs are actually magical devices that provide clues needed for the second challenge, which I don't want to reveal. But between the first and second challenges, there is a dance called the Yule Ball, which all the students must attend. Hermione goes with Viktor Krum. It's fairly obvious Ron wanted to ask her to be his date, but he was too late to ask her, and in any event he was a jerk about it, acting as if he'd only be doing her a favor. Harry was very nervous to ask anyone, but finally did ask Cho Chang, whom he'd had a crush on since seeing her on the train to Hogwarts earlier in the movie. But she'd already been asked by Cedric. So Ron and Harry go with a couple other girls whose names I don't even know. Ron is obviously jealous of Viktor, and it eventually seems Hermione wished Ron would have asked her in the first place. (I think there may have been some hints in the previous movie that the two of them might be interested in each other as more than friends, but this is the first time it becomes really clear. But it still seems like it will be awhile before anything happens on that front.)

Anyway, the final challenge in the tournament involves a giant hedge maze, which each champion must make his or her way through. The first one to find the Triwizard Cup wins. But things take a very dark turn when Harry and one other champion (I won't reveal which) get to the Cup at the same time, and it turns out to be a portkey that transports them to a graveyard, where Pettigrew performs a ceremony that restores Voldemort's body and his full power. (He's now played by Ralph Fiennes, unrecognizable because of makeup and digital effects.) Voldemort tries to kill Harry, but ultimately fails. However, it's still a deeply tragic scene, and the first time in the series that I thought things seemed truly serious. Of course, each movie had its scary elements, and ways it put our heroes, especially Harry, in mortal danger. But this... this is the first time shit gets real. And as Hermione later says, nothing is going to be the same anymore.

Well... I guess I don't want to spoil anything else, yet. It's definitely the darkest film yet, which is why it's my favorite so far. (And I'm really hoping the films get progressively better, from now on.) I also want to mention a couple of characters I haven't yet: there's the Headmistress of Beauxbatons, Olympe Maxime, who is even taller than Hagrid, and who becomes a possible love interest for him. And there's a reporter from The Daily Prophet named Rita Skeeter (Miranda Richardson), who doesn't seem particularly ethical in her journalism. And... I don't know what else to say, I guess.


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